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Patchogue hands out 1,000 bright vests in effort to prevent pedestrian deaths

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Pedestrian and bicyclist safety just got an upgrade in Patchogue Village.

Be Safe, Been Seen, an initiative to bring awareness to the importance of saving lives, was introduced this week by Mayor Paul Pontieri, village trustees, Suffolk County Police Fifth Precinct Deputy Inspector Robert Moten, Patchogue-Medford Library Director Danielle Paisley and community members.

Following a pedestrian accident on Route 112 in Patchogue and the tragic death of a 2-year-old girl, the village launched the Be Safe, Be Seen education program to raise awareness of road safety.

“One of the things I learned from teaching is that sometimes it’s easier to change behaviors than it is to change the system,” Pontieri said. “The issue out on the street at night is everybody’s dressed in dark clothes — you become a target, you didn’t even know you were a target. Even the person driving the vehicle doesn’t realize that.”

The new program provides a solution to the situation described by the mayor — making available free reflective, bright vests to resident who need them.

Fifteen private businesses, unions, non-profit organizations, and service groups donated over 1,000 vests, armbands, and lights, which were distributed over the past month by the Suffolk County Police Department’s CODE Unit and the Patchogue-Medford Library.

Paisley said the library gave out about 270 vests and plan on holding a workshop on how to sew reflective materials into their clothing or backpacks.

“We had a crossing guard story time where we had a crossing guard come in and talk about the importance of using the crosswalks and safely walking,” Paisley said.

One of the donors is Plumbers Local Union #200, for which state Sen. Mario Mattera serves as a union leader.

“If this can prevent anyone from getting hurt, that’s what counts here,” Mattera said.

Please scroll down for photos below.

Top: State Sen. Mario Mattera showing off one of the orange safety vests. Photos by Ana Borruto.